Master Carol Burris Shichi Dan (8th degree black belt) began training in 1976 under the instruction of J. C. Burris. Master Burris was strong, quick, and a natural for the martial arts. She was a frequent and successful competitor at tournaments between 1976 and 1984. After her second child was born in 1982, Master Carol Burris never competed as regularly as she had earlier, turning her focus and energy on active instructing and motivating her students.
Master Burris's attention to detail, her quickness and strength, and her natural coordination made her a natural for kata competition. She competed frequently with ladies and men winning many championships and trophies. Among some of the major competitions with repeated wins were the IIKA's Nationals, Joe Corley's Battle of Atlanta, Roy Hinkle's Battle of Nashville, and Ben Kiker's Southern tournaments.
Master Burris was always strong and skilled in kumite, winning first place in the ladies divisions so often, it was almost "automatic." The only ladies that gave her good competition during one phase of her fighting years were the very top southern lady competitors: Julia Ledbetter and Nancy Toby from Nashville, and Mitzi Tyler from Rome, Ga. Master Carol Burris was one of those ladies who could have competed in the men's divisions, and of course she always did compete with the men regularly in training sessions.
Master Burris won first place in both Kata and Kumite in the 1978 Isshin-ryu Karate National Championship. Master Burris accumulated over 200 first and second place awards for Kata and Kumite in her years of competition.
As an instructor, Master Burris is without question one of the very best. Her greatest asset is her uncanny ability to motivate her students. Her students were well disciplined with excellent technique, and they believe they are the best. She believes that students must like what they are doing in order to be successful, so she always makes training fun without losing any of the rigor and discipline, and they always look forward to coming back to class for the next session. Sensei Burris has learned her lessons well, and she applies what she has learned to make sure her students succeed.
Sensei Burris is an original pioneer for women in karate and is inspirational to women particularly women in the south. She organized "Ladies of Isshin-ryu" several years ago for the purpose of convincing women that they could be more than casual members of an Isshin-ryu school and helped them learn they could take on leadership roles within the dojo, within their communities through the martial arts, and within the larger national arena of lsshin-ryu. Since her efforts started years ago, much progress has been made by women in the martial arts, and in Isshin-ryu in particular. This is not to say that the progress is a result of her efforts alone, but she was one woman who had a message and exerted the leadership to be heard.
On January 15, 1994, Sensei Burris became the first Isshin-ryu woman in the I.I.K.A. to be promoted to the Master's rank of Roku-Dan (6th degree black belt). She went through intense testing and questioning before the I.I.K.A. Board of Directors in order to be promoted. She has been recognized for outstanding contribution to Isshin-ryu Karate and to her community because of her work in Isshin-ryu at the community level.
In 1996 Master Burris was Inducted into the World Head of Family Sokeship Council and received the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame's Female Pioneer Award.
In 1998 Master Carol Burris became the first woman inducted into the prestigious Isshin-ryu Hall of Fame, and was awarded the I.H.O.F.'s Female Instructor of the Year.
Master Burris currently lives in Cartersville, Georgia with her husband fellow I.I.K.A. Board Member Grandmaster J. C. Burris.